College Football Will Miss Steve Spurrier When He Retires

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Steve Spurrier’s annual appearance at SEC media days takes more influence from Don Rickles than it does Bear Bryant. Tuesday’s session-opening appearance was no exception, as South Carolina’s Head Ball Coach tacitly defended the Gamecocks’ 7-6 finish in 2014 with a zinger at the expense of Tennessee and Arkansas.

On this, the 50th (!) anniversary of Steve Spurrier winning the Heisman Trophy, the star SEC quarterback-turned-coach still exhibits the same carefree demeanor he has for decades.

As discussed in the above-linked piece, Spurrier’s made sport of ribbing rivals, whether it’s Georgia, Florida State or Tennessee (you can’t spell Citrus without UT). And he’s typically had the walk to back up his talk.

The past year suggests that Steve Spurrier’s tank is approaching E. A season in which some set high expectations (present company included) started with a thud against Texas A&M, and never quite got off the starting blocks.

While Spurrier’s right in his assessment of 7-6 — historically, South Carolina would join Tennessee and Arkansas in those cartwheel routines over such a finish — 7-6 isn’t indicative of the Steve Spurrier we’ve come to know.

That’s probably why he hinted at retirement; well, that, and his being in the game for more than a half-century. Few last that long in any profession, much less football.

But even as he slows down or perhaps loses some of the edge, quips such as Tuesday are reminders of the Steve Spurrier we’ll remember long after he leaves the game. He’s carved an indelible place in college football lore, and his attitude is one more coaches could embrace.

Quite simply, Spurrier has fun. Media days like the the SEC’s ongoing event in Alabama provide great opportunities for the press to share stories of the players in attendance with fans hungry for football after months off. But these events are also heavy on empty-rhetoric coach-speak and/or politicking.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know personally my love of college football is rooted in the game’s fun. Steve Spurrier’s willingness to have some fun brings welcome levity in what’s increasingly become a serious business.